How to Help a Friend

Опубликовал Admin
16-01-2021, 11:30
Friends rely on each other in times of need, but sometimes it can be hard to know how to help a friend. If you have a friend who is struggling with emotional issues or another serious problem, start by talking with them about it. You can also help your friend feel better by doing things like validating their feelings, inviting them to do things, and checking up on them regularly. Make sure to involve other people in helping your friend as well so you don’t put too much pressure on yourself.

Talking with Your Friend

  1. Tell your friend if you’re worried about them. If your friend has been saying or doing concerning things, let them know that you’ve noticed and that you’re worried about them. Avoid getting upset or emotional when you do this as it may cause them to feel worse. Just tell your friend what you are concerned about in a straightforward manner.
    • For example, you might say something like, “John, I’ve noticed that you stopped coming to game nights and that you are spending most of your time alone. I’m worried about you.”
    • Some examples of concerning behavior may include withdrawing, acting sad, self-harming, using drugs, gambling, or having unsafe sex.
  2. Let your friend know that you are there for them if they need your help. It’s important not to put too much pressure on your friend to talk, but letting them know that you’re there for them if they need you can help to reassure them. Offer to help them in any way that you can.
    • Try saying something like, “I’m here for you if you ever want to talk,” or, “Let me know if there’s anything I can do to help.”
  3. Listen to your friend if they want to talk with you. Give your friend your undivided attention if they want to talk, such as by putting away your phone and shutting off the TV or your computer. Face them and make eye contact with them. While your friend is talking, pay close attention to what they say and nod to show you are hearing them. You can also rephrase what they say now and then to show you’re paying attention.
    • For example, you might say something like, “It sounds like you’re saying that you haven’t felt happy in a while. Is that right?”
  4. Empathize with your friend to gain insight into what they’re feeling. Empathy is a way of understanding other people’s feelings by putting yourself into their shoes. Try to imagine how you’d feel if you were going through what your friend has experienced or described. You might feel sad, angry, confused, lonely, or all of these things at once. Be sensitive to your friend’s emotions as you listen and respond to them.
    • For example, if your friend shares with you that they have been feeling depressed since the death of a family pet, imagine how you might feel if your pet died.
  5. Tell your friend a story if something similar happened to you. If you have had an experience that is similar to your friend’s experience, sharing it with them might help them to feel better. However, make sure to share the story in a shortened version so you don’t end up turning the spotlight onto yourself. Remember that the point of sharing the story is to help your friend feel validated and less alone in their experience.
    • For example, if your friend shares with you that they are having trouble with schoolwork and worried about failing, you might say something like, “I struggled a lot with math last year and I thought I was going to fail. I had to get tutoring after school a few days per week for a while.”
    • Or, if a friend shares with you that they’re feeling depressed and don’t know what to do about it, you might say, “I felt really lost, too, when I went through a depressive episode a couple of years ago. I don’t know if it would help you, but therapy really helped me.”
  6. Make suggestions only if your friend asks for your advice. Unsolicited advice is not usually received well, so it’s best to avoid advising your friend about what they should do. Instead, focus on listening to them and only offer advice if they directly ask you for it. And if you do make a suggestion, make sure to maintain a non-judgmental and somewhat uncertain tone.
    • For example, if your friend asks what they should do about a conflict with another friend, you might say something like, “I don’t know if this will help you, but I usually find it’s best to talk to someone when I’m having an issue with them.”
    • If you really want to share your opinion, ask your friend for permission first. If they say yes, try to keep your opinion short and objective.

Helping Your Friend Feel Better

  1. Validate their feelings if they share them with you. Acknowledge your friend’s feelings by letting them know that you have heard them and that you are sympathetic to their plight. Name the feeling they have expressed and let them know that you are sorry for what they are going through.
    • For example, if a friend shares with you about the difficult time they have been having with a coworker or classmate, you could say something like, “It sounds like you have been getting bullied by this person. I’m so sorry you have had to go through that.”
    • Or, if your friend shares with you about the sadness they have been feeling since their parents’ divorce, you might say something like, “You’ve had such a difficult year. I’m sorry you’ve been feeling so sad.”
  2. Call or text your friend 1-2 times per week to check up on them. If you don’t see your friend on a regular basis, calling or texting them once or twice per week is a good way to help them. Ask how they are, what’s new, and if there’s anything you can do to help them.
    • For example, you might call or text your friend, “Hey Angie! Thinking about you! How’s your week going so far?”
  3. Invite your friend to hang out with you and other people. Having things to look forward to can help your friend to stay positive and feel better if they have been struggling. Try to include your friend in your plans with other people at least once per week.
    • For example, you could ask your friend to go bowling with you and some other friends on the weekend, make plans to check out a new restaurant or café together, or invite them over for a movie night at your place.
  4. Ask your friend what activities might make them feel better. Hobbies, sports, and other special interests can help people to feel validated and happy in their daily lives. If your friend used to participate in activities and they no longer have the time or interest, you might encourage them to get into them again.
    • Try saying something like, “Remember when you took that baking class and made all those beautiful cakes? You’re so talented! Maybe getting back into baking would help you feel better.”
    • Or, you could say, “You were always so active with student government in high school. Do you think you might like to do that in college as well?”

Reaching out to Others

  1. Tell someone who can help if your friend is in danger. If you have a friend who is being bullied, threatened, harassed, abused, or who is in danger in another way, tell someone who can help them right away! Tell a teacher, parent, supervisor, or someone else who can do something about it. If your friend is an adult, talk with their significant other, an adult sibling of theirs, or another friend. Early intervention is important for preventing a serious issue from becoming even worse.
    • Try saying something like, “I’m worried about my friend. She is being bullied and I think it’s getting worse. Can you please help?”
    • Or, for an adult friend, you could say something like, “Clarissa has been drinking more than seems healthy and I’m worried about her. Have you noticed this, too?”
  2. Encourage your friend to seek professional help if they are struggling. If your friend is depressed or dealing with trauma or other emotional issues, encourage them to talk to someone who can help them. They might benefit from seeing a therapist or talking with a school counselor.
    • If your friend is in grade school or college, have them start by talking with the school counselor. You could even go with them if they are reluctant.
  3. Help your friend make a doctor’s appointment for a health issue. If your friend is struggling with addiction, an eating disorder, chronic illness, or another issue, they will need to see a doctor for treatment. Your friend might need to start by seeing a general practitioner and then find a specialist for additional treatment. Help your friend find a doctor if they’re having a hard time taking this step.
    • For example, you could look up doctor profiles online with your friend and even make the phone call to set up an appointment if they’re nervous.
    • You could even offer to go to the appointment with your friend if they are worried or frightened.
  4. Take good care of yourself as well. While it is admirable to want to help a friend, make sure that you are also taking care of your own needs. Reach out to other people for support as you try to help your friend. Tell a trusted friend or family member what’s been going on and how it has affected you emotionally. If your friend continues to struggle despite your attempts to help them, remember that this is not because of you.
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